1965 Chevelle Convertible: Price Of Originality

1965 Chevelle Convertible

There are many automotive collectors out there who prize originality. I think the best example of that was a pair of sales back in January 2014 where two essentially identical Mercedes 300SL’s were auctioned at the same event and the unrestored one sold for over $400,000 more than the restored car! Now let’s consider this really nice, but not perfect 1965 Chevelle convertible from Upland, California advertised here on craigslist for $34,900.

1965 Chevrolet Chevelle

Said to be “90% original,” whatever that means, and having been driven only 3,000 miles since 1989 (although total mileage is not disclosed), this car really looks nice; shiny paint, beautiful upholstery, bright chrome and the desirable Malibu trim level. I’m very surprised that no dashboard close-ups or engine compartment photographs are included, though, nor are there any pictures of the undercarriage. I’m guessing the shiny exhaust tip shown in the picture indicates a replaced exhaust, or this car really has been in a cocoon! The ad states that it’s fully optioned, with a 283 cubic inch V-8, automatic transmission, power steering and a tilt wheel. The top is power-operated and is shown in one of the pictures half-erect, so my assumption would be that it works well.

1965 Chevelle Interior

The interior is in incredible condition for a car 50 years old. The seats look like they haven’t been sat in, and if the only nitpick I can find is a seat belt end that’s been wrinkled up in a seat crack for too long, I’m impressed. It’s also encouraging that there’s a high-quality tool box in this picture; hopefully that means the car has been treated with care. I think you can tell a lot about an enthusiast by the way their tools are taken care of.

1965 Chevelle Wheel

So now we come to the gist of my question: what price originality? Looking closely at this fender trim, I can find some tiny nicks and dents. I suspect the rest of this car is similar. Yet by searching a little on the internet, it was easy to find this beautifully restored 1965 Malibu SS convertible for $32,500 or best offer, which is certainly a more coveted specification than a regular Malibu. A quick check of some value guides has our original car in the $27,000 – $30,000 range depending on engine and other options, which has me wondering. Dr. Simeone and the museum that bears his name are big proponents of “it’s only original once,” and many current collectors have embraced this view of maintaining and curating history. Which begs a couple questions–would you choose this original car over a restored one, assuming the original is in nice but not perfect condition? And if you did, would you replace slightly damaged parts like this fender trim to make the car perfect? What have you done, and what might you do differently now?


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  1. Jimmy

    another option would be to hammer out the fender trim dings and re polish, it would still be original!

  2. OhU8one2

    You could always chase down some NOS part’s and install them. It would still be factory original.

  3. OhU8one2

    What about NOS? It would still be factory replacement part. IMHO still original. Myself,unrestored over the over restored you see so much today.

  4. DRV

    Leave it as is please! The 544 I bought from a thread here 5 years ago still has the dings in the trim and elsewhere. Who cares…a car is in a constant need of condition once restored or you can drive and have fun with much less worry this way.
    The car appears to be a different color in every picture, but I am assuming it is the wonderful light yellow?

  5. Rocco

    Personally, I prefer the restored version for a couple of reasons. It is the SS package with the 327/4-speed. It already has been restored. Every unrestored vehicle eventually needs something. Then gradually it isn’t original anymore.
    I’m not a drop-top slush box(auto) guy, so I wouldn’t be bidding(buying), but if I was to choose, it would be the restored version that was presented more clearly in the ad with the more desirable 327/4-speed.

  6. Charles Hefner

    When they’re in this nice of original condition,you can’t afford not to leave that way as far as I’m concerned!!

  7. Eric M.

    Although I’d rather the 4 speed, is have to go with the original. The restored one is listed as a recreation, so who knows what it started as… both have a 283.

    It appears that the interior has been replaced, maybe that’s the 10% that’s not original?

  8. Art M.

    I like either. I don’t recall ever seeing a two tone interior like that as original equipment in a 1965 Chevelle If they are counting that as the 10%, I t they are a little off on their percentage. Nice car though, just a little steep on the price.

  9. Forrest

    According to http://paintref.com/cgi-bin/colorcodedisplay.cgi?manuf=GM, V the color on the plate is called Cameo Beige. The seats are correct but the door panels look a little iffy.

  10. Forrest

    Oh, and the wheels and tires are so wrong it isn’t even funny.

  11. Gary

    Nice looking Chevelle with the way it was equipped, still a plain jane car IMO. The color is the drab Cameo Beige so many older folks purchased when new. This is not a SS model and is just a bench seat, 2spd auto, only good feature is the power top. Appears the interior was redone at some point and since the mileage is not given and no pictures of the engine bay I would be hesitant to drop any hard green on this ride.
    I have a ’65 Skylark drop top in restored condition now, it was the same boring color when new yet by Buick referred as Shell Beige. I have factory air with PS,PB,PT, original 250hp V8, Bucket Seat Console w/tach car. I have the black plates and am the 3rd owner. He appears to be way off base with pricing, car may bring $24k on a good day. Another thing the car would be a bit more desirable with original black yellow plate’s. Those showing horizon plates were issued in ’82 for a 5 yr run, this tells me the car has had a few owners over the years and at some point DMV took the black and reissued the newer white plate during sale or transfer. There are a lot of these out for sale and much better cars for less money.

  12. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    nice resto ? – see the 10 percent…..

  13. Joe Doyle

    I guess it depends on the person. I have this same car, different color, same trim, basically the same vehicle. It needed a Full restoration, I do not plan to sell the car, don’t need to. So I’m having it restored to showroom quality (as close as possible), just as my father restored his 67GTO. I just like seeing the vehicle as it was right off the line, where as someone else would prefer to see theirs as a high quality survivor vehicle, which is pretty cool in its own way.

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